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WWE profit falls but beats Wall Street estimates

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) -- WWE, which produces wrestling events such as WrestleMania and television shows such as Raw and SmackDown, said Thursday that its third-quarter profit fell due to lower sales of video games and home videos and higher salary expenses.

Despite a 67 percent decline in profit, the company's results topped Wall Street expectations, sending shares higher in trading.

The company, formerly known as World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., said it earned $3.5 million, or 5 cents per share, down from $10.6 million, or 14 cents per share, in the prior-year period. Adjusted for one-time expenses the company would have earned $5 million, or 7 cents per share.

Revenue fell 4 percent to $104.2 million from $108.5 million.

That was better than the average forecast of Wall Street analysts, who expected earnings per share of 5 cents and revenue of $108.5 million.

Salary expenses rose 19 percent, and the company said it "return(ed) to a more normalized level" of incentive pay for executives.

Company shares rose 44 cents, or 5.4 percent, to $8.53 in afternoon trading.

The company said revenue from North American operations was flat at about $80 million, while international sales fell 16 percent. Sales from home videos fell 23 percent to $6.4 million due to price decreases. Licensing revenue fell 21 percent to $7.1 million due to reduced sales of video games and novelty products.